Torres del Paine National Park in the Chilean Patagonia is one of the World’s top wildlife destinations. Located between rich subpolar forests and the vast Patagonian steppes, the backbone of the park is the Paine mountain range, with the famous and much-photographed Cuernos (horns) del Paine as its centerpiece. This 2,100 m massive granite formation rises abruptly over the surrounding plains, providing a unique and extremely photogenic backdrop. The strong winds and changeable weather often produce dramatic cloud formations and stunning skies, a delight for landscape photographers. And from a wildlife and bird photography perspective, the park is a veritable goldmine: many extremely attractive species are abundant and approachable, in a mostly open landscape that makes photography a joy.
One of the main targets for wildlife photographers visiting the reserve is the Puma (Puma concolor): few places in the world offer such good chances of watching and photographing a great wild feline in full daylight. Pumas are relatively common in the park and surrounding areas, supported by the large population of guanacos and the extremely abundant introduced European hare, which form the bulk of their diet.
I’ve also visited the Valdés Peninsula in Southern Argentina, in a failed attempt to see and photograph the famed sea lion-hunting orcas. There are some great birds and mammals in the open grassland of the peninsula, and the sea lion, elephant seal and penguin colonies deserve a trip on their own.